Minella Rocco to carry top weight in Grand National

Gordon Elliott represented by Tiger Roll, Ucello Conti and veteran Bless The Wings

Minella Rocco:  Jonjo O’Neill’s  runner-up in the 2017 Gold Cup will carry 11st 10lbs in the Grand National at Aintree. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Minella Rocco: Jonjo O’Neill’s runner-up in the 2017 Gold Cup will carry 11st 10lbs in the Grand National at Aintree. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Gold Present was the only withdrawal at the final 48-hour declaration stage for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Minella Rocco, runner-up in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, will shoulder top weight of 11st 10lb, with Noel Meade’s Road To Riches sneaking in at the bottom of the 40-runner field.

Blaklion is one of two runners for Nigel Twiston-Davies after he finished fourth in last year’s race and he will be joined by stablemate Double Ross.

Gordon Elliott will aim to cap an unbelievable season with Tiger Roll, Ucello Conti and the 13-year-old Bless The Wings his options.

He is not the only teenager in the race, though, as fellow 13-year-old Raz De Maree will try to supplement the Welsh National he won in January when he was ridden by James Bowen.

This time Bowen rides Shantou Flyer for Richard Hobson, while his elder brother, Sean, will be on Warriors Tale for Paul Nicholls, who also runs Vicente.

The Last Samuri was second to Rule The World two years ago and while he was unplaced last year, trainer Kim Bailey was delighted with his third behind Tiger Roll in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last time.

“I’m very happy with his preparation and I thought he ran a fantastic race in the Cross Country,” said Bailey.

“He’s as good as he was two years ago, but unfortunately he’s carrying nearly a stone more than he was then, which makes it difficult.”

Total Recall, Gold Cup third Anibale Fly, Seeyouatmidnight and Baie Des Iles, for the husband-and-wife team of Ross O’Sullivan and Katie Walsh, are other fancied runners.

Bryony Frost will ride in the National for the first time when she is reunited with Milansbar, on whom she won the Classic Chase at Warwick in January.

Rachael Blackmore will also ride over the Aintree fences for the first time as she has been recruited by Mouse Morris to partner Alpha Des Obeaux.

The four reserves are Thunder And Roses, Delusionofgrandeur, Walk In The Mill and Vintage Clouds. If any of the 40 confirmed runners are taken out before 1pm on Friday, the reserves will step up in the order in which they appear on the racecard.

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